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American Scouts at the 4th World Jamboree

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American Scouts after an Exchange Expedition


AFTER the first few busy days of establishing our camp, we finally got into the swing of the Jamboree and could start to look around and try to meet our Brother Scouts of other countries.

We soon found out that "brothers" were not the only "relatives" we had. Each contingent was provided with a group of "cousins," Hungarian Scouts who had been trained in the particular language of the Scouts in their charge. You saw them all over, wearing on the right arm a white band with two interlocked hands embroidered on it in red. An embroidered badge over the pocket stated, "Speaks English.."’ "Parle Francais," or "Spricht Deutsch."

Those cousins were a wonderful bunch. Always ready to help, from early morning to late night, interpreting, shopping for us, arranging excursions and doing a thousand other jobs.

They were called "cousins," yet we soon found them to be "mothers" and "fathers" as well. They finally became so much a part of our group, that we felt they had come from America with us to stay with us, eat with us, and sleep with us.

After one of the first morning parades, the coveted Jamboree badges were distributed one to each member of the camp. They definitely established us as Jamboreeites and were the passport that opened all gates and—as we found out later—all hearts for us.

It was a beautifully woven badge, to be sewn onto our uniform, green, with a springing stag in white and the inscription, "1933 Jamboree. Budapest-Gödöllõ That white stag was the symbol of our camp. It followed us everywhere, displayed over gateways, on markers and posters, souvenirs and emblems.

We were truly gathered under the sign of the white stag and soon we learned the deeper meaning of it, as we listened to one of the "cousins" telling the old Hungarian folk legend of the miraculous deer.

"One day, many years ago," he told us, "Hunor and Magor, the two sons of King Nimrod of the Orient, were out hunting with a number of their men. Suddenly, from a thicket, jumped the most beautiful deer they had ever seen. Immediately they started in pursuit. Over mountain sides, through valleys and forests, across rivers, they followed the magnificent animal, until, with darkness, they lost track of it. There was nothing for them to do except make camp right where they were and await the coming of morning.

"When they awoke the next morning, a gorgeous sight greeted their eyes. In their wild ride, they had crossed the borders of their own country and had arrived in another of which they had never heard, a country richly endowed with good soil, beautiful forest, fruits, flowers, game and fish. Hunor and Magyar, decided that this was the land of their choice. They went back for their father’s blessing and then returned with their wives to their new rich country.

"Through the ages they prospered."

"The descendants of Hunor became the Huns and of Magor, the Magyars, who now form the Hungarian nation."

That was the story of the White Stag on our emblems.

In the days of yore, the deer had coaxed the warriors from their own country to the rich camping grounds of Hungary. This time it had coaxed the Boy Scouts of the World to the camping grounds of better understanding among nations. Was it any wonder that we were fond of this symbol? . . .

We had just time to get to our tents and get everything straightened out for the daily inspection, when a wild rumor spread like a prairie fire all over the camp and made us scramble back to the American parade grounds.

And the rumor was true! The Chief Scout of the World, B. P. himself, in person, had come to visit us!

He was riding around the Jamboree camp, on a gorgeous brown horse, followed by J. W. Wilson, the Gilwell Camp Director and Dr. de Molnar, our good Hungarian friend, the organizer of the whole Jamboree, the man behind the stage. And now the three had finally entered through the gates of America!

With hundreds of cameras clicking and cheers booming around him, B. P. smiled and waved his hand and saluted. Then, as we stopped yelling at last, he spoke to us.

He told us how glad he was to meet us at the Jamboree and to see our camp. Then he added: "I really think I owe some of you an apology. I am sorry that I couldn’t recognize you on the Vienna boat. But you see, I traveled under another name. . . ."

Most of us didn’t know to what he was referring, but a Scout from Minneapolis who stood next to us whispered:

"He didn’t fool us, though. We knew who ‘Mr. White’ was all the time."’

And when Lord Baden Powell had left us with more lusty cheers for a send-off, we got the whole story from one of the boys of the Region Ten group. . . . "just as the river boat was ready to cast, off from Vienna for Budapest, a small party came rushing on board and was immediately whisked out of sight. We saw no more of it for quite some time.

"In the afternoon, as we glided down the Danube, we got together- on the deck for a bit of sing-song. Then we noticed the group, an elderly gentleman with loads of freckles and a small mustache, a young fellow and a tall stout man. They were smiling broadly and seemed to be enjoying our singing. After some time, they moved away.

"They had hardly left before one of our leaders turned to me.

"’Know who that was?’ he asked and then continued, ‘that was Baden-Powell and his son!"

"You could have knocked me over with a feather.

"’Why didn’t you tell us before?’ I asked.

"He answered, ‘He must have a good reason for traveling incognito."

"So we respected our Chief’s wish to travel unnoticed. We found out his assumed name.,

though, from his baggage, where it was rather prominently displayed: Mr. White."

Now that B. P. had himself admitted his boat identity, the story could be told.

The Chief Scout’s call had brought a great many visitors into our camp, among them, a host of foreign Scouts and a moment later, the favorite Scout activity of the Jamboree was in full swing.

It was spelled differently in the different languages, "Csencs … .. Thienge," "Tjenz," but the pronunciation and the meaning was the same-the good old English "change!"

The idea was, I would like something of yours and you would like something of mine, so let’s swap!"

In the beginning, there was perhaps at times too much shrewd bargaining connected with the "Change," but later, the spirit turned. The same Scouts, who, at the start, had been interested in getting the better part of the deal, realized eventually that the "Change" was one of the best ways of making a lasting friendship. When two Scouts of two different nationalities walked together, talked together, and ate in each other’s camps, they became comrades and a "Change" between them became gifts exchanged as tokens of friendship.

But that word "Change" helped to give us many good laughs.

One day a little French Scout was standing watching one of the American chefs cooking a pot of beans. The aroma from the steaming beans was finally too much for the boy. He took off his cap and with a hopeful smile, pointed at the pot and whispered, hardly audibly: "Change?"

The American chef grinned and poured into a plate a good-sized portion.

"Go to it," he said, "and keep your hat for a better swap."

Another day, an American boy had a visit from his aunt and young niece. He took them for a trip around the place and went with them through the Danish camp.

Two young Danes were walking toward them. When they came up close enough to be heard, one of them pointed to his companion, then to the girl and with a beaming smile, said:


But as far as we know, the American only smiled back and shook his head.

The word "Change" became universally known to all Hungarians, civilians as well as Scouts.

When an American Scout wanted to pay back to a friend two pengö—the Hungarian currency—he had borrowed, he went into a shop in Gödöllõ with a five-pengö piece and asked for change. The girl behind the counter offered him her shawl, her apron, some embroidered pillows and a wine jug with a leather cover. He finally gave up in despair. He couldn’t make her understand that he wanted change—not "Change."

Some of our fellows made friends all over the Jamboree and on the last day one of them set out with a goodly supply of trinkets on a regular "Change" expedition.

In the morning, he changed his hat for a Syrian headdress, later his lumberjacket for a Hungarian cape. In Norway, he got a green shirt for his khaki one and in Scotland, a kilt for his shorts. His shoes were changed in Austria for a pair of sandals, his belt in Poland for a woven scarf.

On the way home, he was stopped by a boy carrying a lumberjacket.

"Change?" the fellow asked, making many gestures indicating that he desired to change the lumberjacket for the Syrian headdress.

The American boy shook his head, but the other persisted for a while, before he turned away, saying impatiently:

"All right, have it your way!"

The American swung around.

"Why didn’t you speak English before? I’m an American!"

"I’m a Canadian! But how could I know that any one in that outfit could speak English!"

They laughed and shook hands. And as an end to the experience, the Change was accomplished, our boy figuring that he would be needing a lumberjacket after all for the trip back across the ocean.

So far, it was hard to tell what the weather on the return trip would be. Every one was still sweltering in Gödöllõ

Many theories had been advanced as to the reasons for the high temperatures. Some decided that the heat of the many friendships, of the fires in every camp, plus the great amount of paprika which was distributed every day for our cooking caused it and that the sun only added a few degrees more. Others thought the sun alone was to blame.

Whatever the cause, the Jamboree was soon dubbed the "Sunboree". and it certainly did its best to live up to the name. . . .

But we must return again to the day of B. P.’s visit.

Another exciting thing took place that afternoon in the great arena.

On the opening day, the boys of the world had paraded before the people of Gödöllõ and the visitors from Budapest. On this day, the people of Gödöllõ were walking in parade before the boys of the world, the Regent of their country and the founder of our far-reaching movement.

The shops of the town had closed and all morning, carriage upon carriage arrived with loads of laughing peasants. Thousands more came on foot from all corners of the country to take part in the great event.

Some of them took the opportunity to look around the camp, but as the time came for their grand march, they gathered in the arena, while the grandstands filled up with Scouts and thousands of visitors.,

On the stroke of four, Admiral Horthy and B., P. arrived and the parade started.

What a spectacle!

We had heard of the national costumes being used in certain sections of Europe. We had seen a few peasants around camp in queer array, but here our eyes were opened to the glory of the age-old traditions as county officials and merchants, land owners and simple peasants, people of every walk of life marched before us in their splendid array.

The High Sheriff, Vitéz Endre Laszlo, of Gödöllõ, led this amazing parade.

With the sheriffs of the district, all on prancing mounts, wearing fur-lined robes and fur caps, he looked like a picture out of the past.

More than twenty thousand people took part in the great procession. Veterans from the World War, the local rifle clubs, Scouts and Cubs, high school boys in bright white, Girl Guides and Brownies in their picturesque uniforms, gymnastic students, women students, some in ancient national costumes others in contrasting up-to-date fashions.

But the most colorful part was the peasantry of the district marching by.

Here were the farmers in their blue velvet trousers, black jackets and riding boots, with ears of wheat in their low black felt hats. Others carried over their shoulders their poncho-like white capes with intricate designs embroidered on them. Still others had thrown their jackets over one arm, showing their full, white blouses.

Still more beautiful was the pageant provided by the young peasant girls in their rich, quaint costumes. Some had soft white skirts and red bodices and embroidered headbands. Others strolled along wearing many finelypleated, stiff skirts that stuck out like ballet dresses, creating a feeling of unreality about the whole display.

Even Lord Baden Powell felt it. Finally, he descended from the reviewing platform to get near enough to take a picture of these unusually beautiful costumes.

Time and again, we greeted the groups with tumultuous applause, as they passed by, the girls casting flowers to the visitors in the Royal box.

Then, as the procession came to an end, a delegation of peasant boys and girls, carrying between them a selected representation of the produce of the county, marched up to the grandstand. Here were red apples, yellow pears, peaches and apricots, different kinds of melons golden honey in jars, and ears of wheat braided together into big, heart-shaped cushions.

All the gifts were laid at the feet of the Regent and B. P., whereupon the delegation retired accompanied by great applause.

The unforgettable demonstration was over and B. P. stepped down from the platform. He was about to step into his car, when a simple peasant woman made her way through the crowd around him and presented him with a tremendous spray of flowers. As he received it with a smile and a Koszonom–the Hungarian word for "Thank you"—she bent down, impulsively seized his hand in her coarse hands and kissed it again and again, as tears streamed down her cheeks.

That was a wonderful and moving episode. Our hearts warmed and shot out to the simple woman who had demonstrated to us the feeling of love and friendliness, which was in the hearts of the people of this hospitable country, for our Chief-and through him, to every one of us.

1933-WJ4-arrow-guides.jpg (2542 bytes)

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link-1933-wj4-sjb.jpg (2889 bytes) The 1933 Scout Jamboree Book
by James E. West & William Hillcourt
link-1933-small.jpg (2999 bytes) Home Page of the 4th World Jamboree
Gödöllö, Hungary, 1933
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Baden-Powell at the World Jamborees
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Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1998
Last Modified: 6:00 PM on October 11, 1998